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CSBG Archive

She Has No Head! – Comics Time Capsule

The New Yorker 6-8 +15 2009 Daniel Clowes

The New Yorker 6/8/09 by Daniel Clowes

This was just one of those weeks that makes you want to stop the planet and get off. While I was feeling as if there was no escape from the horrible crap happening, I happened across this old Daniel Clowes 2009 New Yorker cover — one of my favorites —  and decided to focus on some positive comics stuff as a coping mechanism.

Here is your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

Create the ultimate comics time capsule that aliens will someday discover. Show them the best of comics (and the world? your call!) with the 22* comics you’re allowed to put inside the capsule. Are they the 22 comics you think are the greatest of all time? Or are they the best and strongest representation of what we had to offer in quality and breadth? Are they just the ones you can read over and over again? Are all of those the same thing? Again, your call!

A few simple rules:

#1. You can put in an omnibus if it exists, as 1 entry (example: The Planetary Omnibus – in it goes!)

#2. It has to be already out, as of today (example: The Planetary Omnibus does not come out until January 2014. Damnit! Out it goes).

#3. You cannot put in all the individual trades of a book’s run in the capsule as 1 entry (example Y: The Last Man). You CAN fill the capsule with 22 volumes of the same thing, but even *I* have to question your judgement there!

#4. We’ll make an exception for special books bound together in a case/collection (example: The Collected Calvin & Hobbes can go in, or Bryan Lee O’Malley’s complete Scott Pilgrim series, as well as unique one of kind comics experiments of the form – like Chris Ware’s Building Stories). Unfortunately, something like all the gorgeous Wednesdays Comics in their original format would not work (unless you wanted to use it as multiple entries), but you could put in the collected edition…man, I wish I had room for that. Damn!

#5. Only comics. So, no, as much as you’re dying to put in my brilliant take on female superheroes in prose form (cough>The Girl Who Would Be King<cough), it’s a novel and thus is not eligible. Double damn!

#6. Yes, you can put in single issues, but man that single issue better be good!

For the rest, you guys decide, they’re your lists, I don’t have our fearless leader’s skills or devotion, so I’m not going to make individual rulings beyond the above. Have at it!

Oh, and here’s mine, in no particular order. Highly personal, absolutely suspect, seriously flawed, but available for your reading pleasure/displeasure. There’s way too much recent stuff on it (I don’t love the writing in the classics, what can I say?), and perhaps most egregious —  there’s no Manga on it — but I don’t generally read Manga and I wouldn’t know where to begin on what should go in the capsule.

But my list** is what it is, it’s what I love, and what I think is a reasonable and wonderful representation of the medium:

Time Capsule Compliation2


Quite frankly, almost everything of Ware’s belongs in a capsule like this, but if I have to pick one it’s Corrigan, in part because unlike some of his other stories that I love it is “finished.” The quintessential independent comic creator, Ware is unsurpassed in just about everything, not the least of which is depth and insight into the failures of mankind.

02. ASTERIOS POLYP by David Mazzucchelli

Top of my list for the best graphic novels of all time, Asterios Polyp is a masterpiece of visual experimentation that never gets in the way of the emotionally resonant narrative. Heartbreaking and uplifting, it’s the perfect example what all comics aim to do – i.e. the best and strongest merging of words and images to move the soul.

03. STUMPTOWN by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth

A modern entry of noir-ish detective fiction, with a powerful female lead, evocative visuals, and a brilliant story that unfolds beautifully, Stumptown Volume 1 also happens to be one of the most beautiful books on my shelves. Oversized with gorgeous matte paper, it’s about as perfect as comic books get from a quality standpoint.

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04. GHOST WORLD by Daniel Clowes

Obviously Clowes belongs on here, hell, his image inspired the idea! Ghost World is easily my favorite of his work, though Mister Wonderful holds a special (if disturbing) place in my heart. But let’s not scare the crap out of these aliens right out of the gate, right?

05. BLACK HOLE by Charles Burns

Easily one of my favorite books of all time, and I don’t see it getting bumped off the list anytime soon. Brilliant, haunting, and beautiful, and good for the list for a lot of reasons, including a very different view of B&W artwork – there are other black and white books on the list – but none that look anything like this!

06. DEMO VOLUME 2 by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan

I kind of like throwing Volume 2 in here without Volume 1 as it shows the fantastic flexibility of comics. Volume 2 needs no Volume 1 in order to work flawlessly. With six gorgeous black and white short stories that stand effortlessly on their own but  enhance one another when read together, Demo Volume 2 is one of my favorite indie comics, and perhaps my favorite example of short stories in comics.

07. X-MEN: THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA by Chris Claremont and John Byrne

Really, this is my only “classic/traditional” superhero book in the capsule and that both surprises and disappoints me. As I mentioned above, I don’t love a lot of the classic comics, groundbreaking though they may have been for their time, mostly due to the over-writing. I’ll also admit upfront that my reading is NOT as deep here as I’d like it to be. Still, it wasn’t that hard for me to leave off a lot of superhero books you guys probably consider vital. I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you. Seriously. Tell me on your lists which ones absolutely should be on here, maybe I’ll do some more reading.

08. ASTONISHING X-MEN OMNIBUS by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

Well, you all know I love this book, I’ve talked about it before. I think it’s a nice companion/comparison for Dark Phoenix Saga. And I’d say it’s reasonably traditional in its superhero storytelling, though obviously too recent to be called “classic.”

09. WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

If you’re going to have classic superhero comics in your capsule then you need the best subversion of them that exists. Dense and complex, forever relevant, Watchmen has to be in there.


The best Batman story of all time? I can’t say for sure, but it’s powerful and important in the superhero comics context. I actually wanted to put  Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics collection, The Black Mirror in as it’s one of my favorite Batman stories of all time. But I can’t possibly put a Batman comic that has a non-Bruce Wayne Batman in the time capsule, and I don’t have room for two. OTHERWISE, HOW WILL THE ALIENS UNDERSTAND ABOUT BRUCE WAYNE??? THEY MUST UNDERSTAND!!! Ahem. Yes, moving on.

11. BATWOMAN: ELEGY by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Certainly relevant  for featuring a gay woman in the primary superhero role, more importantly it has Rucka’s powerful writing and Williams III’s groundbreaking visuals. Every time I pick this book up off the shelf I am drawn into both the visuals and the narrative and can’t stop reading until I’ve read the whole thing all over again.

12. THE COMPLETE MAUS by Art Spiegelman

Probably a good idea to put the comic that won the Pulitzer Prize in, right? It also happens to be haunting and brilliant. Some of these calls are super easy, yo.

13. THE COMPLETE CALVIN & HOBBES by Bill Watterson

A comic strip collection absolutely needs representation. There are a lot of great ones, but Calvin & Hobbes was always my favorite and when you add to that the sheer size, and the quality of this collection it seems like a no-brainer.

14. PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi

Helping to fill out both the non-American contingent and the memoir contingent, Perspeolis is smart and emotional and unlike a lot of the other books on the list. It’s a book I constantly recommend to readers, both of comics and otherwise. In it goes!

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15. WET MOON VOLUME. 1 by Ross Campbell

I adore Campell’s work, as most regular readers know, and it’s an easy choice for me to include it. I don’t know that volume 1 is my favorite of the Wet Moon books, but like any great book with an ongoing narrative and characters that grow and change dramatically over time, it’s best to start at the beginning. But perhaps the best reason to put this in the capsule is because it is utterly unlike anything else on the list. For that alone it’s important.

16. I KILL GIANTS by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura

I’ve read a lot of lovely YA over the last few years, but none of them have hit me as powerfully as I Kill Giants. Profound and  painfully sad, it’s head and shoulders over most comics about similar subject matter.

17. GOODBYE CHUNKY RICE by Craig Thompson

I haven’t yet read Habibi, so maybe that would supplant GCR, and I like Blankets very much, but GCR is the winner for me in its simplicity and heart. A great story about life and friendship, that is beloved by those who’ve read it, but frankly, not read enough. Get on that!

18. SAGA VOLUME 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

There is a serious lack of space opera on my list…easily solved with Saga, easily one of my favorite books of now and any time. Smart, funny, epic, full of surprises and stunning art, I don’t know yet if Saga will “stand the test of time” (whatever that means) but for my money, it’s about the best thing you can do with said money.

19. EXIT WOUNDS by Rutu Modan

Another entry for non-American, and another entry for politically leaning, Modan’s Exit Wounds is a quiet but important book. A modern look at Israel that’s about family, death, and perhaps most importantly, identity, it’s a favorite of mine. I haven’t read The Property yet…will it supplant Exit Wounds? Time will tell!

20. UNLIKELY by Jeffrey Brown

Unlikely was what I consider my official entry into reading alternative comics. And I never looked back. Though I am a rabid Brown fan (I think I own everything he’s done? Is that possible? He’s kinda prolific) Unlikely has always remained my favorite. Told with very little concern for narrative flow, it still somehow is heartbreaking and honest in its depiction of relationships.

21. HAWKEYE VOLUME 1: MY LIFE AS A WEAPON by Matt Fraction and David Aja

Groundbreaking superhero comics are far more rare than they seem when you look at this list. Hawkeye is, without hyperbole, one of the best superhero books I’ve ever read. Smart and funny, it’s effortlessly superhero-ish and utterly un-superhero-ish at once. An impressive feat.

22.  NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen

Funniest superhero book of all time? It is as far as I’m concerned. It’s also a great example of what I wish more superhero books could be – balls to the wall, completely unafraid, and aggressively awesome. It’s a good way to end, that’s for sure.

What were the hardest books to leave off? So many good ones. Top of the pile were Anders Nilsen’s Big Questions with its existential beauty and, well…big questions, the Wednesdays Comics collection, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home in all its tragically honest insight, and Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs’s fantastic totally un-superhero superhero book DV8: Gods & Monsters. It seems shocking to even me that a book based off DV8 almost ended up in my time capsule, but that should tell you just how good Wood and Isaacs are!

*22 books because that’s my favorite number (and because 20 was too hard).

** If you think I’m not also going to cheat and jam in the first two issues of Wood and Coipel X-Men Comics then you have not been paying attention.  Besides, these aliens should at least know what a single issue monthly comic looks like, right? :)


1-16: Cerebus. In my opinion, Sim is the greatest comic book creator/sequential artist/graphic storyteller since Will Eisner. Sim stretches the medium farther than anyone Else I have read. It’s an amazing landmark work. It eats up a huge chunk of the list, but whatever. I’m not going to presume to carve up such a cohesive work.

17: Bone one volume edition. Jeff Smith’s epic is another watershed moment in self publishing.

18: Giant sized Madman Hullabaloo. Collects the Oddity Odyssey, Madman Adventures, and Madman comics. Mike Allred’s work is intelligent, wacky, introspective.

19: The Complete Concrete. The paperback collects issues 1-10 of Paul Chadwick’s series. Includes swimming the Atlantic Ocean and climbing Mt. Everest. The line work is fantastic. The writing is superb.

20: Joe the Barbarian. Grant Morrison is perfect in capturing the essence of childhood fantasy here, and it is because of this book that I now buy anything Sean Murphy draws.

21: Uncle Scrooge Only a Poor Old Man. Fantagraphics collection from last year. I don’t have a particular affinity for this volume (these stories specifically I mean. The fantagraphics books are BEAUTIFUL) Carl Bark has to be on this list though, and they are ALL gold.

22: Prince Valiant vol 3. Again fantagraphics, again a random volume. Hal Foster draws like Jimi Hendrix plays guitar. Otherworldly, leagues ahead of everyone else, and baffling in its nuance.

I agree 100% with Maus and Calvin and Hobbes.

I would also throw in:

1. Absolute Sandman
2. Death: The High Cost of Living
There are others I like but don’t think they would be “epic” enough to be worthy of a time capsule.

I’ve got ten

1-7 would be IDW’s complete Bloom County/Outland/Opus collections. Not just funny comics that, while the details may have changed, still provide incisive commentary on the world we’re in today, but have a humanist edge to them as well.

8 would be an omnibus of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run. Future generations need to have a “what the hell?” grenade lobbed in their direction.

9 would be the second Grendel Omnibus, because that’s when it gets really good.

10 would be All-Star Superman. No question about it.

No judgement – because seriously NO JUDGEMENT – but don’t you guys worry about putting in a whole run – about the precedent it sets?

Don’t the aliens then wonder…is this all we had? Why else put in a whole run of something unless there wasn’t enough variety to fill out the capsule without “duplication”?

Serious question (that has the word aliens in it, I know).

Transformers and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero should be on this list, as the original Marvel Comics runs are examples of two of the longest-lasting comic book series based on toys. They outlasted even some of their most popular contemporaries at the time of their publication.

This looks fun. I’ll be back.

@Acer – so show me your list! Harder than it looks – I promise!

@Sue – Yay!!!

This is really hard because a lot of my favorite titles that I would want to show people (or these aliens) are long-form Vertigo or Vertigo-esque comics that are collected in like 10+ trades. I agree with you, Kelly, that taking up a bunch of spots with one run doesn’t really show the diversity of the comics medium, even if you do really like that run. Which means that I’ll have to leave out a lot of my beloved series, because one trade is not enough. Seriously, I would not wish reading ONLY the first trade of Y: The Last Man on my worst enemies, let alone cool aliens guys.

Be back shortly with my list.

I think I already know the answer to this (and it kills me), but does Akira count as one entry or are the six volumes counted separately?


Agreed, it’s a REALLY hard thing to do.

Six volumes of Akira would be counted separately unless it’s been collected as an omnibus, or if there are ANY examples of all six volumes collected together into a slipcase (or some such) so that they can function as one object.

Like this:

Or this:

Ya, I figured. Thems are the breaks though.

Sorry aliens, no Akira for you!

I am ill equipped for this time capsule, seeing as I’ve only recently ventured out beyond the land of The Big Two, so, my list won’t be a The Best, or Most Influential, or Epic (at least not the oft misused sense of the word). Instead I’m going to take a page from Dziga Vertov . . . because future aliens will totally care about my view of things. On the plus side, I plan to poach from Ms. Thompson’s list (and probably others) to expand my horizons. So thanks in advance for all the unintentional recommendations.

1-4) Absolute Sandman – A master class in storytelling by a master storyteller.
5) V for Vendetta – A True Classic, by far my favorite of Moore’s works, and one of the few bits of fiction I’d recommend for theme alone . . . which is not to slight the story itself.
6) Astonishing X-Men Omnibus – Fun superhero adventures, written by one of my personal faves, starring Kitty Pryde. These aliens will love Kitty and despair!
7) DV8: Gods and Monsters – It’s the only Brian Wood I’ve completed so far, and I demand Wood be in this capsule. Besides, it’s got well developed characters, a solid plot, and an interesting theme.
8) Echo Vol. 1 – I could cheat and put the omnibus in, but this is as far as I’ve read. Still, I’m completely in love with it and don’t think I’ve seen many—if any—better uses of the medium to tell a story.
9) Fallen Angel Omnibus – Post-angelic badassery from one of my favorite writers. ‘kay?
10) Faith & Angel – Faith gets title credits? Drawn by Rebekah Isaacs? No way that’s not going in.
11) Daredevil: The Devil Inside and Out, Vol. 1 – Superhero + Noir = Love Also, it’s one of the first reads that got me back into comics (behind Sandman and Astonishing).
12) Storm & Gambit: Curse of the Mutants – It acts as both a One-shot, and an excellent display of why Gambit is the only character I enjoy as much as Kitty.

13) Durarara!! Vol. 2 – Because chaos is beautiful. And Shizuo Heiwajima.
14) NANA Vol. 2 – We need some slice-of-life in here, and no one does it better than Ai Yazawa, especially this tale of two girls trying to find themselves in the Big City. With Punk rawk.
15) NANA Vol. 4 – If only for those last nine pages.
16) Ghost in the Shell Vol. 1 – I love cyberpunk, and GitS is as good as cyberpunk gets. While I’d much rather put something from Stand Alone Complex in here, the SAC manga hasn’t touched the Laughing Man case—which is very odd—and I refuse to have a comic capsule without Ghost in the Shell in some form or fashion, so the original it will be.
17) Claymore Vol. 10: Battle of the North – Do you love medieval-esque low fantasy stories about powerful, half-demon women carrying huge swords and slashing their way through scores of demons to the heart of a conspiracy involving their very creation? Do you love it even more when the writer doesn’t forget—or sacrifice—character and development along the way? I do. Thus Claymore.

[…] posting content again. In that vein…here is a cross post to today’s hopefully super fun SHE HAS NO HEAD! which is all about creating a comics time […]

I’m going to hook the aliens into alternative comics with my five favorite.

1. Scud The Disposiable Assassin – The whole Shebang by Rob Schrab. Simply the best kinetic action scenes ever captured in comic form.

2. Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad by Evan Dorkin– To teach the aliens all about the stupid pop culture trends of 1989 to 2010 and how they were all eliminated by murderous dairy products.

3. Longshot Comics Book One: The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers: Because we need not see the characters to laugh at their plight.

4. Monky Vs Robot by James Kochalka – The greatest battle ever.

5. Monkey Vs. Robot & The Crystal Of Power by James Kochalka – The greatest battle ever plus a crystal of power.

Dang, this was tough. Here’s my list (in no order):

1. Understanding Comics by Scot McCloud

So the aliens can understand what it is that their looking at.

2. Bone One Volume Color Edition by Jeff Smith

There shouldn’t be any explanation needed for one of my favorite comics works. It’s just amazing all the way through, with the tone ranging from classic cartoon comedy to epic fantasy, all while staying family friendly. And the color edition really is a must; it just looks so good.

3. Astonishing X-Men Omnibus by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
4. New X-Men Omnibus by Grant Morrison and Various Artists

Any aspiring comics fan should know about the X-Men and these are my favorite X-Men runs. It’s nice that they both relatively standalone without the need for a lot of continuity knowledge, which is a must when introducing comics to newbies.

5. The Invisibles Omnibus by Grant Morrison and Various Artists

Classic Morrison, a badass, psychedelic pop-culture epic that doesn’t really make sense all the time.

6. Pride of Bagdad by Brian K. Vaughn and Niko Henrichon
7. Runaways Vol. 1 Omnibus by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona

I love me some Brian K. Vaughn, and these are his greatest non-Y: The Last Man works. Runaways might get bogged down in pop-culture references that the aliens won’t understand, but the flipside of that is that it offers a great portrayal of early-21st century teens.

8. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
9. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

The former is the best introduction to the Caped Crusader you can get, and the latter is one of the best superhero stories in comics. The only thing I worry about is the lack of knowledge about characters like the Joker and Harvey Dent going into DKR. Whatever, they’re aliens. They can figure it out.

10. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

I constantly find myself wanting to experience this book for the first time again, so I figure I’d give that experience to the aliens. It might (big might) be the greatest original graphic novel I’ve ever read, and it really shows what comics as a medium can do.

11. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley

One of the funniest comic series I’ve read, and it does a great job of portraying youth life in the early 21st century. It also might introduce the aliens to things like Earth video games and indie music. I hope the explorer/scientist who discovers this will give it to his 17 year old slacker son.

12. The Couriers: The Complete Series by Brian Wood, Rob G, and Brett Weldele

The Couriers combines great characters that Wood is known for with Hong Kong action, punk rock, classic cars, and New York City crime, resulting in rickrollin’ fun that doesn’t let up once in the whole series.

13. The Ultimates Omnibus by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

I wanted to introduce the aliens to more Marvel characters, and this seemed like the easiest and simplest way to do that. It may not be classic Marvel, but that creates simplicity for new readers.

14. The Secret Warriors Omnibus by Jonathan Hickman, Brian Michael Bendis, and Various Artists

I admit I put this in mostly because I really love this run. It might be difficult to follow without knowledge of the Marvel U, but I read it for the first time without being caught up on what was going on and I loved it, so I’m not too concerned. Once again: they’re aliens, they can figure it out.

15. DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore

A comics time capsule would be incomplete without Alan Moore, and the stories collected in this volume are my favorites of his, with “For the Man Who Has Everything” being my favorite story he’s ever written.

16. King City by Brandon Graham

King City is just really cool. All should experience it.

17. Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
18. All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

When it comes down to it, these are the two stories most essential when trying to understand the character that is Superman. The former tells his origin in a way that doesn’t date it to a particular time period, helped by Tim Sale’s achingly beautiful artwork, while the latter shows just why he’s so important and provides a fittingly poignant end to the character.

19. Criminal Deluxe Edition by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips

I wanted to include some noir comics, and the first three books of Criminal are simply the best examples of those that I can think of.

20. The Collected Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire’s heartbreakingly (which is a word I made up, according to spell check) beautiful masterpiece is just another example showing that comics don’t need superheroes to fly.

21. 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith

The first horror comic that I thought of (other than Locke & Key), 30 Days of Night is a remarkably chilling piece of art, with Ben Templesmith providing superbly horrific visuals. Perfect for alien Halloween.

22. Marvels by Kurt Busiek an Alex Ross

Another great into to the Marvel U, it also shows that comics can be created in many different ways, like the paintings provided here by Alex Ross.

All 1990’s X-Men comics with lots of pockets and straps. I kid, I kid!!!

” All 1990?s X-Men comics with lots of pockets and straps. I kid, I kid!!! ”

On that vein, I wonder what the aliens would think of our civilization if the time capsule contained Rob Liefeld’s entire bibliography– including all the creator-owned teams he made that were clearly rip-offs of existing characters, but without the records of those existing characters to compare. What would an alien civilization think of us, if all they had to go on was Youngblood? Would they see Liefeld’s Doom’s 4 as an unfinished masterpiece in the vein of the Canterbury Tales? How would they interpret our anatomy based on Avengylyne?

Some of these might just be guilty pleasures, but here’s my list…

1. Essential X-Men volume 2
2. Batman year one tpb
3. Dark Knight Returns
4. Watchmen
5. Hawkeye vol. 1
6. Daredevil visionaries: Frank Miller, vol 2
7. Daredevil Born Again tpb
8. JLA volume 1
9. X-Factor #87
10. The Very Best of Marvel Comics tpb
11. Essential X-Men volume 1
12. Essential X-Men volume 3
13. Marvel Civil War tpb
14. Marvel Secret Invasion tpb
15. Age of Apocalypse Omnibus
16. G.I. Joe: Cobra vol 1
17. Sandman vol 1
18. Batman: the Killing Joke
19. I don’t know if this counts, but I have a cd-rom with PDFs of the first 44 years worth of Fantastic Four comics…

Soooo hard, but so much fun. Ask me again tomorrow and I know it will be completely different list. Trying to get diversity of subject, diversity of culture (even with my limited knowledge of none english language material) and allow enough room for personal favourite and bias to run free was near impossible. So anyway I went for*:

1. Understanding Comics – Scott McCloud
2. Evolution: The story of life on Earth – Jay Hosler, Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
3. Age of Reptiles omnibus – Ricardo Delgado
4. Asterix and the Soothsayer – Rene Goscinny and Uderzo
5. Blueberry volume 1 – Jean-Michel Charlier and Moebius (Titan edition unless someone knows of a bigger collection?)
6. Little Nemo – Winsor McCay (the 1905-1914 complete Tauschen thingie)
7. Charley’s War Volume 3 – Pat Mills Joe Colquhiun
8. Onwards towards our noble deaths – Shigeru Mizuki
9. Complete Black and White Zot! – Scott McCloud
10. Gregory Treasury – Marc Hempel
11. Contract with God – Will Eisner
12. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus volume 3
13. Cradlegrave – John Smith + Edmund Bagwell
14. The Complete Nemesis the Warlock – Pat Mills, Kevin O’Neill + Jesus Redondo + Byran Talbot
15. Judge Dredd – Complete Case Files volume 2 (with apologise to all the fans of Volume 5!) – Various
16. Complete Calvin and Hobbes – Bill Watterson
17. Beanworld – Volume 1- Larry Marder
18. Animal Man Omnibus – Grant Morrison + Chas Truog + various
19. Complete Bone – Jeff Smith
20. Flaming Carrot – The wild shall wild remain – Bob Burden
21. Cerebus – High Society – Dave Sim
22. Nowhere Men – whatever the first trade is called – Eric Stephenson.+ Nate Bellegarde & Jordie Bellaire.

*oh and I abandoned any silly attempts I was making to but the list into any kind of order that made sense early doors!

1-3.) Volumes 2, 3, and 4 in the Library of American Comics’ complete reprinting of Milton Caniff’s ‘Terry and the Pirates‘.

4-9.) ‘Prince Valiant‘ Volumes 1-6 by Fantagraphics.

10-11.) ‘Sandman‘ Omnibus, Volumes 1 and 2.

12.) ‘Spider-Man‘ Omnibus Volume 1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

13.) ‘Manhunter‘ The Special Edition.

14.) ‘Walt and Skeezix‘ Volume 1 (Drawn & Quarterly’s reprinting of Frank King’s ‘Gasoline Alley‘).

15.) Barnaby Volume 1 in the ongoing Fantagraphics project.

16.) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

17.) Bone One Volume Edition

18-20.) Volumes 6, 7, and 8 in the Library of American Comics’s complete reprinting of Harold Gray’s ‘Little Orphan Annie‘.

21.) ‘The Doonesbury Chronicles‘.

22.) The Mansions of the Gods (could just as easily be Asterix the Gladiator, Asterix and the Roman Agent, or any of the others by Goscinny and Uderzo.)

Hardest to leave out: the Barks Ducks, Alan Moore’s Top 10 Absolute Edition, Lee-Kirby’s ‘Fantastic Four‘ Omnibus Volume 2, Hergé’s ‘Tintin‘.

What’s very encouraging about doing that is at first you think that 22 is quite a lot. When you write a long list you release its not, when you do a short list you find its impossible. When you ‘publish’ it you realise how much other stuff you forgot.

Great way to remind yourself how much diversity there is in the comic field. To remind yourself that you really need to try to find out more about this or that, or explore one area or another of the medium.

Still think I need one chest for comics and one chest for 2000ad stuff as the cuts I made there were merciless – no Nikolai Dante and that possibly my favourite strip ever!

All right–you asked for it (in no numerical order or order of significance):
-Marvel Comics’ Transformers and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero runs (as examples of story potential in what started out as kids’ toys)
-The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics by Eastman and Laird (as an example of an independent property finding multimedia success)
-Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude (as an example of a good, high-concept sci-fi story)
-Action Comics #1 (first superhero story, what else?)
-*Shudders* Watchmen (even though I hate that story like you wouldn’t believe it, it is an example of the turning point where comics ‘weren’t just for kids anymore’)
-Amazing Fantasy #15 (first appearance of a universally-recognized character)
-Jon Sable, Freelance by Mike Grell (as an example of good ‘adventure’-type stories)
-Crisis On Infinite Earths (example of ‘house-cleaning efforts’ by a comic company)
-The first ‘Parker’ collection by Darwyn Cooke (an example of good novel-to-comics ‘translation’)
-One issue of 2000AD (as an example of successful comics overseas)
-Volume one of “One Piece” (as an example of successful, best-selling manga)
-One work by Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud.
-One issue of “Conan the Barbarian” and “Red Sonja”.
-One issue of a DC and Marvel Wild West title.
-One issue of an Archie comic.
-One issue of Tales from the Crypt.
-One issue of an early Image comic (as an example of NOT what to do when approaching hero comics) and a current Image comic (as an example of a company learning from its past mistakes).
-And finally, one issue of Young Romance.

Whaddaya think?

I just typed out a whole list that got eaten by the internets when I tried to post it. So rather than recreating the entire thing, I’m just going to say Gotham City Sirens #1-22

1. Watchmen: I can’t not include it.
2. The biggest collection of Kirby/ Lee Fantastic Four on the market (Omnibus or Essential v3) that includes issues 40-60.
3. Howard the Duck Omnibus: the world-weary wit of Steve Gerber + the amazing art of Gene Colan, Frank Brunner, etc. + the sleazy ’70s = awesome
4. Daredevil: Born Again by Miller & Mazzuchelli: my favorite super-hero comic
5. Kabuki: Metamorphosis by David Mack: beautiful, arresting, meaningful comics that stretch the boundaries of the medium
6. Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez: the best comics ever made
7. Lone Wolf & Cub v1: Mesmerizingly brutal
8. Voodoo Child by some guy & Bill Sienkiewicz: purely for the best fully-painted Sienkiewicz interiors ever put to paper.
9. Sandman: Brief Lives by Gaiman & Thompson: my favorite volume of the brilliant series
10. Suicide Squad 1st collection: not my first choice of Suicide Squad material (the arc in which Deadshot has to stop Rick Flagg from killing a senator is #1) but I’ll take what I can get…
11. Thor by Walt Simonson Omnibus (or v1 if the run is broken up into multiple volumes): so damn good
12. I can’t decide on a Clowes book… Ghost World is too amazing to reject but Caricature and The Death Ray are close at its heels
13. X-Force/ X-Statix Omnibus: funny and poignant yet dark and inconsequential. Milligan, Allred, & Co crafted a hell of a super-hero satire.
14. Blankets: Kelly’s right about Chunky Rice, go read it if you haven’t. Blankets reminded me of a relationship I used to have and the art is beautiful
15. Building Stories: Chris Ware created something well-crafted and unique.
16. Concrete: Fragile Creature: Paul Chadwick’s story of the title character getting involved with making a movie is one of the lighter Concrete tales but remains my favorite.
17. Our Cancer Year: American Splendor never grabbed me, but the story of Harvey Pekar coping with cancer, told from both his and Joyce Brabner’s perspectives, is engrossing.
18. Spider-Man by Stan & Steve Omnibus: the best Silver Age comics, non-Kirby division
19. Sleeper Omnibus by Brubaker & Phillips: noir meets powers; fun and disturbing
20. Blacksad v1: noir meets animals; gorgeous art
21. Tales Designed to Thrizzle v1: among the funniest comics ever.
22. Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco: the journalism comic that I couldn’t put down.

In no particular order:

1. Absolute Sandman v. 1 by Neil Gaiman & Co.
2. Absolute Sandman v. 2 by Neil Gaiman & Co.
3. Absolute Sandman v. 3 by Neil Gaiman & Co.
4. Absolute Sandman v. 4 by Neil Gaiman & Co.
5. Absolute Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
6. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
7. League of Exttraordinary Gentlemen v.1 by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neil
8. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli
9. Batman: The Dark Knight by Frank Miller
10. Absolute All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly
11. Absolute New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke
12. Wednesday Comics by Various
13. Fantastic Four omnibus v.1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
14. Amazing Spider-Man omnibus v.1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
15. Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross
16. Absolute Planetary v.1 by Warren Ellis and John Cassidy
17. Absolute Planetary v.2 by Warren Ellis and John Cassidy
18. 3 Story by Matt Kindt
19. The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens
20. Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke
21. Criminal, Deluxe Edition by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
22. Locas: The Maggie & Hopey stories by Jaime Hernandez

This was tough.

I feel like I have too much Darwyn Cooke and not enough Jack Kirby, but New Frontier is an excellent distillation of what I love about DC and Parker feels essential. My next Kirby selection would’ve been tough, since there is so much great material right below his early FF run.

I completely disregarded comic strips, since my knowledge of the subject is spotty and I don’t feel like I could’ve done it justice. The same is true for Golden Age stuff, like Plastic Man, The Spirit and EC Comics. I just don’t know enough.

I couldn’t imagine leaving off Sandman, or Planetary. My sense of fairness to the aliens meant including all of both stories, The rules meant that cost six slots instead of two. Scott Pilgrim got cut out on the flip side of the same reason. Other omissions that I regret are Howard Chaykin’s work (either Blackhawk, or the Shadow), Paul Chadwick’s Concrete, an X-Men story that felt definitive enough and … and … and ….

For me, it was important to get an overview of not only comic varieties, but to also include comics that gave a sense of what our world culture was like. I wanted the aliens to not only understand comics, but to understand US.

1. Understanding Comics: a how-to guide, if you will
2. Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics- a century of comic history right there
3. Smithsonian Book of Comic Book Comics-excellent overview of American comic book varieties, from war to horror to superhero. Plus, LITTLE LULU!

The next few were chosen not only for their comic excellence, but because they gave history/cultural lessons. I was tempted to include Larry Gonick’s “History of the Universe” but I think they are of poor comics quality.

4. Maus
5. Barefoot Gen Vol 1
6. Persepolis
7. Palomar
8. Tin Tin in Tibet (my list is very weak on Euro comics!)
9. Best of Doonsbury

These were important “Alternative Comics”

10. Best of Bijou Funnies/Apex Treasury- nice overview of the original undergrounds. Includes Crumb, Green, etc.
11. An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories- good overview of newer alternatives
12. Comics Underground Japan
13. Jimmy Corrigan

Misc. Comic Excellence

14. Best of the Spirit
15. Calvin and Hobbes
16. Best of EC: Artist’s Edition- often overlooked here at CBR. Excellent art by Wood, Craig, Davis et al and good variety of stories (crime, horror, war, SF)

Requisite Superhero Stuff

17. Marvels-gives a good overview of the Marvel Universe
18. Marvel Masterworks 23: Dr. Strange-because Ditko/Lee
19. Marvel Masterworks 25: Fantastic Four (Wedding, Inhumans, Galactus Trilogy)-because Kirby/Lee
20. Superman in the Sixties: the peak of his career—the creation of the mythos
21 Batman Year One-because Batman
22 The Watchmen

I’d knock out mrclam and ajit, steal their picks, and put a combination of the two in my own capsule. Those Smithsonian collections were what I thought of immediately.

1-3) Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Saga of the Swamp Thing vol. 1 (Alan Moore may be crazy but often there’s genius in crazy)
4) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. (Fantastic representation of work that children can love but doesn’t talk down to them)
5) Maus (Comics recognized as serious art)
6) Asterix the Gladiator (First comic that made me realize that there were other horizons for me to explore, particularly in language)
7) Avengers West Coast Omnibus 1 (My introduction into Marvel Comics)
8-10) New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1-3 (My introduction to DC comics)
11-16) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World 1-6 (Makes me chuckle every time)
17) Get Fuzzy: Treasury of the Lost Litter Box (My favorite current comic strip)
18-19) The Dark Knight Returns/Batman: Year One (Best character by a legendary writer)
20-21) Batman: The Dailies/The Sunday Classics 1943-1946 (Love the classic style)
22) DC First Issue Special #8 – First appearance of Travis Morgan (Mike Grell is my favorite artist and this is my favorite Edgar Rice Burroughs-ian take off in comics history. Damn shame that Warlord vol. 1 doesn’t have an omnibus of the Grell written and drawn issues)

It’s really cool to see all the capsules here – especially because they’re so different. Fascinating really.

Would love a peek into the minds of the different aliens that stumbled upon different capsules and what their worldview of Earth takeaway would be. Well, except for the Gotham City Sirens capsule, I really don’t want to know about that!

Thanks to all of you for actually taking the time to do this yourselves, rather than just ragging on mine (or others) picks…I think it’s a great experiment to put those shoes on and see how hard it is…makes it harder to cast stones.

That said I’m already cursing myself for not putting Palomar, or Locas, or any Love & Rockets inside. Also grouchy about missing absolute New Frontier and well…a whole bunch of others.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. G-I-JOOOOOEEEE!!!

All 22 volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys!

Huh, nah. Because then it’d be missing the two volumes of 21st Century Boys that wrapped things up.

1. Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1

2. Batman Chronicles Vol. 1

3. Black Jack Vol. 1 by Osamu Tezuka

4. MW by Osamu Tezuka

5. Essential Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 6

6. Watchmen by Alan Moore

7. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Boxset by Bryan Lee O’Malley

8. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller

9. Batman: Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

10. The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

11. Superman: The Man of Steel Vol 1 by John Byrne

12. Superman: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns

13. Deadpool Classic Vol 1 by Joe Kelly

14. Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams: Volume 3 (lots of O’Neil’s best in that)

15. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont

16. X-Men: The Fall of the Mutants by Various

17. Batman: Knightfall Vol 1 by Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench

18. Batman: Knightfall VOl 2 by Various

19. Batman: Knightfall Vol 3 by Various

20. Fullmetal Alchemist vol 15 by Hiromu Arakawa

21. DC Universe: Legacies by Len Wein

22. 20th Century Boys vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa

Alright, here goes my capsule!
I’d say the first 15 were the obvious ones, and then it got more difficult to pick what what to put in.
This is in relatively no particular order.

01- Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition HC by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neil – The best satire/deconstruction (or rather demolition) of superheroes ever. And “Kingdom Of The Blind” is without a doubt one of the best Batman stories ever.

02- Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen – Like Kelly said, one of the funniest comics ever made, it kicks and explodes everything in its path.

03- Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and Dave Mazzuchelli
04- Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and Dave Mazzuchelli
One of the best creative teams in the history of comics. Hell, let’s just give the aliens ‘Born Again’ The Artist Edition!

05- Hellboy: Library Edition Vol 1 by Mike Mignola – I just love Hellboy, so in it goes. I’d put in the whole Library series (plus the Art Of Hellboy HC and The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects) if it wouldn’t take spots from other books.

06- Lobo Paramilitary X-Mas Special by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Simon Bisley
I was gonna put in the TPB collecting The Last Czarnian and Lobo’s Back, but this was not in it and is better.

07- X-Statix Omnibus by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred – Another of my favorite comics of the past decade.
Too bad Marvel went and killed everyone in it except Doop (spoiler alert hahaha), there were a lot of great characters in this series.

08- Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy – Too recent to be considered a classic but it’s a superb achievement by Murphy.

09- Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross – One of my favorite series of the 90’s, or ever really.

10- Wolverine: Enemy Of The State by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr – One of my favorite arcs of the past decade. I guess we should use the recent Millar Omnibus HC although personally I don’t like Old Man Logan.

11- Beasts Of Burden HC by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson – I love this, just a beautiful, severely underrated series.

12- Tintin: Tout Tintin by Hergé – This edition is somewhat questionable because it’s in a smaller size but it includes ALL of Hergé’s Tintin series, so a much easier choice than having to pick just one story.

13- Spirou et Fantasio, L’intégrale T7- Le mythe Zorglub 1959-1960 by Franquin – Collects my favorite Spirou stories “Z Comme Zorglub” and “L’Ombre Du Z”, and this edition also includes a third story that, while not one of the best, is still a fun read.

14- Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrisson and Dave McKean – My favorite Morrisson book, with astonishing McKean art.

15- Fantastic Four Omnibus Volume 2 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby – Arguably the best part of the original FF run.

16- Jack Staff: Everything Used To Be Black And White by Paul Grist – another very underrated series, Grist is awesome!

17- Incognito: The Classified Edition By Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips – A cool ‘crime story’ take on superheroes, or rather superpowered people.

18- WildCATS/X-Men: The Golden Age by Scott Lobdell and Travis Charest – kind of random but I love this book and Charest’s art is just spectacular.

19- The Incredible Hulk: Pardoned by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema –
The Mantlo and Buscema run on Incredible Hulk is probably my all-time favorite run of any series ever, going back as far as around the death of Jarella (way before Mantlo’s time even) all the way to the end of the Crossroads story. I picked the Pardoned TPB since Marvel ridiculously is not releasing this run in the glorious Omnibus (or two) it deserves. And I really wish they’d at least collect the 30 or so issues that come before the Pardoned/Regression/Crossroads TPB series.

20- Metropol by Ted McKeever – McKeever is very hit-or-miss for me recently, but this is just great. I also considered Eddy Current and Plastic Forks.

21- Thor Omnibus by Walt Simonson – It’s a classic.

22- Inhumans by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee – Another random pick.

Some of my runner-ups: The Maxx by Sam Kieth, 100 Bullets by Azzarello and Risso (can’t just put one volume in it), Dragonball volumes 18-35 by Akira Toriyama (ok not really but it’s a favorite of mine), Whedon’s X-Men Omnibus, Planet Hulk/World War Hulk, first Young Avengers series, X-Men Proteus story by Claremont/Byrne, Silver Surfer Parable by Moebius (or anything by Moebius but I haven’t read enough to decide), and I wanted Amazing Spider-Man but I couldn’t just choose “everything from Amazing Fantasy 15 until Secret Wars”.

PS: Kelly, if you can get Stuart Immonen to do The Girl Who Would Be King graphic novel it will go in the capsule for sure!

Interesting. I should probably preface this with all kinds of excuses for not including more classics or for enjoying what I enjoy or something. On the other hand, it’s my list. It would certainly look slightly different even tomorrow, but here it is.

1. 100 Bullets Deluxe Edition Vol.1 by Azzarello & Risso

2. Watchmen Deluxe Edition by Moore & Gibbons – There are somce classics where I can’t buy into the hype just because I’m supposed to love something. See Maus, for example, which does very little for me. Or try basically anything by the Beatles, if you want to talk music. Gigantic expectations meet an “Alright, I guess” personal experience which leads to infinite disappointment. Watchmen on the other hand is one of those instances where I was all hyped up and still ended up being blown away more than I had imagined. Can’t have this list without it.

3. The Killing Joke by Moore & Bolland

4. Wonder Woman by Azzarello & Chiang Vol.1: Blood

5. Wonder Woman by Azzarello & Chiang Vol. 2: Guts – The only book to get two slots. I mean, I don’t love it THAT much more than other stuff on this list, although it remains the best mainstream title going on today…but the stretch from #8 – #10 just gives me chills and includes too many of my favourite moments with the climax in hell in #10 being one my favourite moments of just about anyything ever. And since there’s no bigger collection yet, two slots it is.

6. Batwoman by Williams III & Blackman Vol. 1: Hydrology

7. X-Men Omnibus by Claremont & Lee Vol.1

8. Hellblazer: Scab by Peter Milligan – which is the volume that started me on both Milligan & Constantine. Not even the best one, but I’m sure Aliens can dig up the rest and read on from there.

9. Shade The Changing Man Vol. 1 The American Scream by Peter Milligan – Maybe the aliens can finally put out a collected edition of the whole series?

10. The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman

11. Secret Warriors Omnibus by Hickman & Bendis

12. The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

13. Animal Man Vol.1: The Hunt by Jeff Lemire

14. The Long Halloween by Loeb & Sale

15. Dark Victory by Loeb & Sale

16. Identity Crisis by Meltzer & Morales

17. The Unknown Soldier Vol. 1: Haunted House by Dysart & Ponticelli

18. Death Note Complete Box Set by Ohba & Obata

19. Solanin by Inio Asano

20. Daytripper by Ba & Moon

21. Midnight Nation by Straczynski & Frank

22. Preacher by Ennis & Dillon – is there an Omnibus or something? I have it in trades. Just take the biggest volume out there.

I wonder what the aliens would thing about our choices of comics that depict our view of aliens? I’m not going to put a whole list together, but All Star Superman would be pretty high on the list for this reason.

1-4 TMNT HCs vols 1-4 (#5s not out yet, bummer)
5 Death & Return of Superman Omnibus
6 Absolute edition of DKR
7 Action Comics 775
8 Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
9 the killing Joke
10 the Rocketeer collected edition
11 wednesday comics collected edition
12 Crisis on Infinite Earths Absolute Edition
13 JLA vol 1
14 daytripper
15 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (newest DC mini)
16 Superman For All Seasons
17 Absolute edition of New Frontier
18 Usagi Yojimbo vol 1
19 Kingdom Come Absolute edition
20 Justice HC
21 Superman/Batman: Supergirl from Krypton
22 Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

i’m probably alone on a lot of those… but thats okay.

I’m really kicking myself for forgetting New Frontier.

after thinking some more, i didnt include any fun books… daytripper i would lose and add in any collection of Young Justice… if those even exist.

I’m going to claim I stopped at 17 because it’s my favorite number (and it is) . . . otherwise I’d have to admit I totally spaced on including Y: The Last Man, Vol. 3, NYX: Wannabe and The Red Star, Vol. 1 . . . despite the bookshelf currently located right beside my head. And that would make me look pretty stupid.

I wish I had something more humor-based to stuff in there as well, but I can’t think of anything off the top.


If I could get Stuart Immonen to do The Girl Who Would Be King I would first A) Die of happiness and then B) Suggest that 22 copies of it should go in the time capsule! ;)

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